Friday, March 29, 2013

Sweetest Name I Know really is the sweetest name I know. Just the mention of His name brings me peace and comfort. But, around the world this may not be the case. The mention of His name can cause friction and upset many people. Speaking His name may land you in jail in many countries or even death as a martyr for the cause of Christ. He is cursed and His image is spat upon while those Who love Him are comforted and find great joy at the sound of His name...two opposing views for a man Who walked the face of this earth more than 2000 years ago and spoke of the greatest Love ever given.

As we've been leading up to the celebration of this holy Easter weekend my Pastor has asked us to consider the fact that we are not our own and I have been pondering that for weeks now. What does that mean for me personally? What does that look like? How do we communicate that to a world that is driven by selfish ambition?

We've all heard the Easter story since we were children but when you really study it with "new eyes" and contemplate it and realize what Jesus went through in the garden before He was was so excruciating that He sweat drops of blood. He was all man and all God so He knew what was coming and knew His Father would have to forsake Him...what agony. It was so much more than the physical pain He would endure and He did it willingly. Can you imagine the humiliation and degradation of leaving Heaven's glory to come to Earth to take on all the sin and filth past, present, and future of every human ever to be born? Every rapist, murderer, child molester, liar, thief, adulterer, gossiper, back stabber, yes, now we're getting down to the every day man and woman like you and me. As He prayed in the garden,"Father, if it be Your will take this cup from me; yet not my will but Yours be done," that was His moment where it was all settled.

They didn't take His life, He gave it willingly. There is a HUGE difference. So...when I give my life to Christ it is no longer mine, I give it willingly, it is not my own. It was bought with an extremely high price...the blood of the ONLY lamb Who could atone for my sin or yours or anyone who ever takes a breath on planet Earth. We can whine and complain, and I've done my share, till the end of time about our rights but that won't change the facts of what Jesus did at Calvary and one day the Bible says in Philippians 2:10, That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. NIV

When I look at it like that, I'm happy to give myself to Him. Anyone Who would give themselves for me like that, loves me with a love that is unconditional. After all, He created me in the first place. Doesn't it stand to reason that He would have a plan to redeem His creation...the very ones He placed in the original garden? Therefore, I am happy to give Him my entire life, for He is trustworthy and faithful. He has proven Himself over and over to me.

For me, it goes back to Jesus in the garden when He prayed "not My will but Yours"...I want this to be the cry of my heart. Not my will but Yours.

Have a blessed Easter,

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Motherhood 101

I was talking with my dear friend, Tina, recently (actually we were texting but you can have entire, meaningful conversations in a short amount of time) about our days as "stay at home" moms and all the many field trips and class parties we participated in with our children. We have been friends for a "coon's age" as I heard my parents say as I was growing up. We attended the same church and school, had the same friends and have "been there" for each other for all the "times of our lives."

Andy's first Easter
She was telling me about her youngest child going on a field trip to a barrier island off the coast of a neighboring state recently and that got us talking about our years as room mothers. Motherhood has many joys and especially being a "stay at home" mom, I got to experience many of the daily things that I wouldn't trade for all the tea in China.

First time holding Bailey
There was a time that being a mother was just a dream for me. Every little girl assumes she will grow up, get married, and have babies. That didn't happen for me, at least the baby part. After almost nine years of marriage and no babies, we went another route and chose adoption. We were blessed with two beautiful babies from Guatemala who were born 22 months apart. We got them both as babies so we were able to experience everything with them... and I mean everything. They have been the joy of my life.

Love at first sight
My husband asked me one time what my favorite holiday was and I said, "Mother's Day, of course." I think he understood. For many years though Mother's Day was painful. Not only could I not have children but I didn't have a mother for emotional support and guidance. She died when I was 15 years of age. Her death had robbed me of many of life's joys and now I was childless. Talk about wallowing in self pity. I didn't need a party with guests, I could have one all by myself. Anyone who's experienced infertility will understand my pain.

My story has a happy ending because adoption has been a wonderful blessing for my family. I can't imagine life any other way and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God's plan for us was perfect and His timing was perfect.

As my friend and I were talking about all the school trips and parties we've shared together with our children, there are memories we will never forget...memories that bonded our friendship. Isn't that what life is made of? We're here for such a short time really. God places us in the family He chooses whether by birth or through adoption and then we pour our lives into these little ones until they're grown and ready to change the world...or maybe their little corner. We tuck them into bed, say prayers, go on field trips, pack lunches, send them off to the prom, then to college and's time to let them go.

As I told my husband, my favorite holiday is Mother's Day because I can do all those things for my children...even let them go...but at the end of the day, I'm still their mom. When I was a little girl all I wanted to be when I grew up was a mommy. God heard my prayer.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Sticks and Stones...Words That Heal My Bones

Words have such power over us. They can calm a crying baby, incite a crowd to anger, bring peace to a troubled nation or pierce the heart of the broken. What we say and how we say it can turn the whole conversation into healing or hurting.

God has a way of reminding us, with words spoken directly from His heart, how much He loves us. He gave us a complete volume with 66 books filled with His love story to us. But, I also believe He uses modern technology to speak to us through His people and His Spirit.

She had no idea of the issues I'm going through right now but sent a text speaking peace over me. Her words were used by God at precisely the moment I needed them most...perfect...on time...precisely. And then we question, is there a God Who cares? I certainly don't have to think twice on that one!

Proverbs 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. NIV

Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. NIV

What we say does matter. Our words can hurt or they can heal, they can encourage or they can tear down. Build someone up and chances are you'll find yourself feeling better too! Solomon knew a thing or two that still works today. My friend's words to me brought healing to my soul and showed me God knew my need. How will you choose your words today?

Have a great Palm Sunday weekend!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pictures Tell Our Story

What do we do with memories? Well, if you're like me you store them in your heart and draw upon them when a sight or smell beckons your attention...or maybe an occasion such as a wedding or funeral bring certain memories flooding back. Pictures also have a way of taking us back in time. How many people have you heard make the statement "If my house catches on fire I'm going for my pictures first?" I know I've said it. Pictures are priceless...just ask someone who couldn't get to theirs and I'm sure they'll tell you how much they're worth.

My heart is full from this past weekend as memories of little ones, now grown, are preparing to get married. I wanted to share a story from part of my life through pictures. I had the privilege of co-hosting a Bridal Luncheon at the Swan Coach House in downtown Atlanta. All we needed was a carriage and pumpkin to make the fairytale complete. It was a magical afternoon. The bride's mother and I have been friends for twenty-six years. She is like the sister I never had so her daughters are very special to me.

Very soon she will be a "Mrs"...the youngest of our four children, and so I remember...the years of watching her and her sister grow up with my children. The bonds they share, the memories... and I cry, because that's what I do when my heart is happy. I know she's found her Mr. Right who will love her as unconditionally as is humanly possible, for he has shown himself worthy...and she will do the same.

Her parents will give her away...and they will cry...and life will go on. We have them for such a short time and then it's time to let them go and then move into a new phase of life. It's God's plan for us AND for them.

But for this weekend, we gathered with all her favorite females. We ate yummy food, and took lots of pictures, for this particular group of women will never be assembled together, just like this, ever again. Her aunt, who is a missionary in Africa, was with us. In fact, her grandmother had both her daughters, and all three granddaughters for the weekend. I think she was glowing. Did I say we took lots of pictures?!!

Pictures record the moment, but more importantly, they remind us of our history, capturing moments to be held in our hearts long after the sweet tea and chicken salad is gone.                   
This post is written in honor of my friendship with Lori, a friend whom I can count on through the ups and downs of life. She has been there in everything from the adoption and arrival of my daughter, to the death and burial of my dad. I can count on her godly advice and loving tears of sisterhood in any situation. She loves her girls and would lay her life down for either of them. What an example of a godly mother she has set for them as Emily begins her life as Mrs. Cody, the same example her mother set before her. I love you Emily, and pray God's blessings on your marriage!


p.s. Now a little walk down memory lane if you will indulge me please...
Bride-Elect - Emily and Mother of the Bride - Lori 


Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring....Time For Growth

I love this time of year when my yard springs to life. Plants that have lay dormant begin their journey to new life and peek through new mulch, spread to protect them from the hot Carolina sun. Ahhh, my second favorite time of the year!

I love getting my hands in the dirt, checking the progress, sometimes daily, just waiting for the beautiful new sprouts to greet me. I love going to ANY store that sells flowers and I absolutely can't resist buying something. To me, there is something therapeutic about a garden.

My husband and I have talked about downsizing but I don't want to leave my yard. As I've said in other posts, I'm very sentimental so you can feel my pain in leaving rose bushes given to me by my children or irises from a homeowner on work I did after Hurricane Katrina. Can you imagine the horror when the new owners come to occupy my home and the entire yard has been dug up and hauled away?!!! May it never be!

To some, it may be just a yard, but to me it's the product of years of labor. When I was sad or troubled I would dig and plant or when I was stressed I would pull weeds...and pray. We all need an outlet, a way to unwind, let things go, and this is mine.

God has a way of pruning us...cutting us back...taking off dead branches. He'll remove the clutter and the rotten stuff out of our lives to make us into a beautiful, growing vessel that He can use. If a plant isn't cut back, it will eventually wither, look unhealthy or even die. But, if it's pruned regularly it can be the most beautiful thing. The same is true of us spiritually, we must search our hearts regularly and remove the clutter...prune away the rotten garbage that we've allowed to accumulate. Psalm 139:23-24 says Search me, O God,  and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. NIV

Sometimes pruning hurts, but it's always for our good. I would much rather go through it and come out a beautiful vessel to be used in the hands of a Master Gardener. Wouldn't you?

Now I do think there must be some chore in the garden that's calling my name.

Happy Spring,

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Package

I went to my mailbox one day this week and there was a package stuffed inside. I pried it out, excited to see who the sender might be. I immediately recognized the return name and address and tore it open.

Inside the package was a note from a dear friend and a lovely gift of tea. She simply said she'd been reading my blog, saw the tea and thought of me.

It goes much deeper than that. She is a person who has spent her life investing in people. I began to reminisce, and as I often do, took a walk down memory lane.

I'm going to use her first name, I don't think she'd mind. Kit began a Bible study for women in her home when my children were very young. Andy had just started preschool and Bailey was still at home. There were several young mothers like me but some older women came as well. What a wonderful mixture of women to come together once a week to study the scriptures. Kit opened her home showing hospitality through the serving of tea and baking of homemade breads and cakes. She poured her life into ours, loving us as Christ loves His Church. She mentored that little group of women until God called her and her husband to a larger ministry in another country.

That package triggered thoughts of my own spiritual journey and Kit's investment in my life. Just as she poured tea and the Bread of Life into me each week, it made me think, am I pouring myself into others? Am I investing myself in people instead of wasting it in things that are temporal?

We all tend to be selfish at times but real joy comes from investing in others. John 15:16-17 says: You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit...fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.

I think Kit has loved well. I am one of her fruit and I know many others who would say the same. She continues to bear fruit long after she has moved away. My children come behind me and they are the fruit of her as well. Who will you invest yourself in today?


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Grandmother Writes

I was reminded recently of the Buffalo Creek flood disaster in Logan County, West Virginia that occurred in 1972. A friend from high school posted a link on Facebook on the anniversary of the tragedy and I was immediately transported back in time to my childhood.

Both my parents grew up in Logan County, but my Mom actually lived in that part of the county. I can vividly remember how devastated she was, and as I often do, I went rummaging through family memorabilia. If you're like me, and most of your family has gone on to their heavenly reward, old pictures and letters become sacred. You handle them with utmost care, reading them, searching for hidden messages or meaning that probably wasn't least I do. OK, so I'm a little strange, I have a creative mind.

In my rummaging, I found a note my grandmother sent to me after I was married. She'd written it just after my bridal shower with some comments made about me from a former Sunday School teacher. So many thoughts went through my mind as I read the note again after so many years. It was obvious she was proud of me and wanted to express it in her own simple way. How precious to me are her words, written in her handwriting.

She was a simple woman, yet a godly woman who loved me...that I know. I always thought I was her favorite and if every grandmother can make her grandchild feel that way then she's done her job well. She had lots of grandchildren for she had seven children so I'm sure she had several favorites. We lovingly called her Ma Bailey. Bailey was her last name from her first husband. Don Bailey was my mom's dad, who died when she was eighteen years of age. She'd just graduated from high school.

Ma Bailey knew loss, suffering and pain but she knew how to love. Her daughter, my mom, lost her battle with breast cancer at the age of 38. Ma Bailey was my connection to the mother I'd lost. She would stroke my hair and remind me how much my mom loved me and how much I looked like her. When I was a little girl, Sunday afternoons were kind of boring when we'd go visit, but now that my mom was gone the need to see her was all consuming. I was drawn to her touch, her voice, her presence. I honored her and my mother by naming my daughter, Bailey, for I was proud to have come from these two special women.

Some of my friends are at that time in their lives where they have grandchildren or are expecting grandchildren. I've watched them grandparent with such love and grace. What an awesome responsibility we're given. The wisdom we've gained as parents can be poured freely into the lives of these precious little ones through the time we spend on our knees interceding for them and our children.

The one thing I know is that my grandmother loved me and expressed her love through the written word. I have a tangible piece of her that I can say on this day she was thinking of me. Write to your children and your grandchildren. If photography is your gift, take pictures. Tell them you love them in words and photos. Make a scrapbook of your memories.  Your physical presence won't always be here but your written words will be here long after you're gone.

One day when your little one is all grown up and rummaging through their drawer looking for something, they'll find a piece of you, a piece of their history that links them forever with you, and they'll know they were loved.


Friday, March 1, 2013

The Most Important Book

I have an addiction. There...I said it. I have an addiction to the written word. I love books but magazines will do in a pinch and I've grown to love my Kindle because with a touch of a get the picture.

When I walk into a bookstore and inhale deeply...go with me on this one...the aroma of books and coffee mingled together is almost enough to take my breath away. My heart starts beating a little faster, a smile spreads across my face, my mood immediately lifts and for the next hour or so I am in pure bliss. Yes...I have an addiction, and if many of you are honest with me, you are agreeing with me right now.

When I was a little girl, my hometown of Madison, West Virginia didn't have a public library. It was a wonderful place to grow up though. We had a book mobile that visited the downtown area every other Saturday...and every other Saturday I would faithfully lug all the books my scrawny little arms could carry back to the book mobile. I can still remember my teachers, Mrs. Songer and Mrs. Vandelinde reading aloud to us and instilling a love of reading in me. When report card time rolled around I cared more about the sticker telling my parents how many books I'd read instead of the grades I'd received. These are memories I treasure as well as the teachers. probably doesn't surprise you that my home is full of books. I'm continually organizing, weeding out and sharing. Books educate, entertain and inspire but the most important book by far is The Holy Bible. It is the inspired Word of a Holy God. It has the power to change a life, to rescue the fallen, to heal the broken, the wounded, the weary, the wicked. It has completely changed mine. It has the power to put nations in place and yet gentle enough to heal a broken heart. It is the only path to a secure eternity with a loving Father/Creator. I have many books that I love and read and collect but none that have stayed with me my entire life and that I return to over and over. It has proven trustworthy and its Author is faithful to stand behind every word written from Genesis to the maps. Why not check this book out? The public libraries are stocked and most bookstores nowadays have reading sections with comfortable chairs that you can peruse their books before you purchase and if you're near my little corner you can borrow one of mine!

Many blessings,